A Taste of India – My New Favorite Dessert

April 23, 2013
Flavor Ingredients
While on my travels, some of my colleagues and I had the pleasure of dining at a restaurant called A Taste of India.  A Taste of India is a restaurant that provides a taste of exotic flavors and Indian cuisine with a few delicacies from the north and south regions.  They serve many of the following items: hot and cold appetizers, tandoori breads, biryanis, south Indian specialties, vegetarian specialties and many more.  On their website, they proudly state that each dish has its own distinctive flavor and aroma due to the preparation of the spices each and every day.

My colleagues and I were lucky to have a kind friend who was helping our table select appetizers and entrees to share.  I loved the tandoori bread sauces.  Fragrant, zesty and warm spices were blended in their sauces/spreads to go along with the tandoori bread selections.  No low carbing for this meal – delicious!

This lead to me to look up a few of the traditional spices.  I may have tried to discretely use my iphone during the dinner to look up some spices and recipes….  I really didn’t know that many of the spices used were ones that I was already familiar with.  For example, Dalchini is the same as cinnamon and Jeera is the same as Cumin seeds.  In many of the dishes I could taste the cinnamon and cumin coming through and the combination of sweet and warmth added depth to our selected choices.

I loved all the savory selections, but anyone who knows me knows that I have a little bit of a sweet tooth.  Well not a little bit – a lot of a sweet tooth. I was introduced to a sweet and honey-like dessert called Gulab Jamun.  Gulab Jamun is a traditional Indian dessert.  They are spongy dough balls that are typically soaked in rose scented syrup.  In looking into distilled rose water or Galub Jal or Arq, I learned that this is used a lot in flavoring of desserts in the Middle East.  It is my new favorite dessert!!

I want to take a moment to thank our wonderful dinner host for introducing me to many new tastes.   I also think that next time I’m trying all of the dessert menu!  In the spirit of sharing my experience, I thought I’d share a recipe I found for the Galub Jamun (www.veggiebelly.com) so that readers could envision this sweet treat and possibly try to emulate this experience at home!

Milk Powder Gulab Jamun Recipe

Makes about 24 small sized gulab jamuns

For sugar syrup
2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cup water
4 cardamom seeds, powdered in a mortar and pestle
A drop of rose essence, optional
A small pinch of saffron threads, optional

For the jamuns
1 cup unsweetened milk powder or dry milk (not coffee creamer)
1 tablespoon butter at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons flour
A pinch of salt, optional
1/2 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1/3 cup whole milk


  1. Place the sugar, water and cardamom powder in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and watch for the sugar to dissolve. Once its dissolved, boil for another minute. Turn off heat and add rose essence and or saffron, if using. Set the syrup aside.

  2. Now make the Jamuns. In a mixing bowl, add milk powder or dry milk, baking soda, flour and salt. Mix well.

  3. Then add butter and vinegar. Add milk a little at a time and mix till it forms dough. You may not need all of the milk.

  4. When a soft, sticky dough forms, stop adding milk. Cover and let the dough stand for about 20 minutes.

  5. After resting, the dough will be less sticky, airy and a little firmer. If its too lose, sprinkle a little flour. If its too dry, add a little milk.

  6. Knead the dough a few times.

  7. Dip your fingers in oil or ghee, divide the dough into 24 even pieces and roll them into balls. Dip your fingers in oil as and when needed to avoid sticking.

  8. Heat enough oil to deep fry in a saucepan pan on medium-low heat. Drop a small pinch of the dough in the oil  to test the temperature. The dough should sink to the bottom and then slowly rise to the top. If it sits in the bottom of the oil without bubbling, the oil is not hot enough. If the dough rises and browns too quickly, the oil is too hot.

  9. Add the jamun balls a few at a time and fry in oil on medium-low heat. Stir and turn the jamuns frequently so they brown evenly.

  10. When brown, remove from oil using a slotted spoon and drain on several layers of paper towels.

  11. Repeat with all the dough. Let fried jamuns cool.

  12. Add the jamuns to the sugar syrup. Stir gently so the jamuns are well coated in syrup.

  13. Cover and let the gulab jamuns soak in the syrup for atleast an hour before serving. Gulab jamuns will keep for several days at room temperature.